Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In 1892 ...

My story, A Tug At My Heart, takes place in 1892. Catherine is struggling with the death of her husband, the birth of a new baby, and finding a way to survive alone in a remote mountain cabin. Zed is the foreman of the silver mine in La Plata, Utah, trying to keep miners on the job and the mine producing like his boss wants.

While reading a western or regency story, have you ever wondered what else was going on during that time?  Well, thanks to the internet and Wikipedia, I found a few interesting things that happened in 1892 and I'd like to share some of them with you.

Let's start with La Plata information I found from the Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol 50.
   Lots approximately 25 X 75 were sold for $2.50 in La Plata.
   Business license rates for La Plata were:
                  Liquor Saloon           $800
                  Boarding Houses        $40
                  Lunch Counter            $20
                  Meat Market               $40
I was surprised the rates were so high

La Plata never had an official cemetery. No man was ever killed or buried in La Plata. Sick or injured men were shipped to the Logan Hospital.

Miners working below the surface made $3 a day while workers on the surface earned $2.50 a day. This did not include room and board.

For $12 a month, a miner could live pretty well in La Plata.  Beef was cheaper in La Plata than in Salt Lake City approximately 70 miles south. That really surprised me because usually food in cheaper in larger cities, but that wasn't true this time.

A loaf of bread was ten cents.

While La Plata was struggling to grow during the silver mine era, around the world several other things were taking place.  Some of which were:

On Jan 1, Ellis Island began accommodating immigrants to the Unites States.
Mar 11, the first basketball game ever played in public was between students and faculty at the Springfield YMCA.
In April, the Johnson County War breaks out between small farmers and large ranchers in Wyoming.
July 12, a hidden lake bursts out of a glacier on the side of Mont Blanc, flooding the valley below and killing around 200 villagers and holidaymakers in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.
Aug 4, the father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden are found murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home.
Aug 9, Thomas Edison receives a patent for a two-way telegraph
Oct 5 - The Dalton Gang, attempting to rob 2 banks in Coffeyville, Kansas, is shot by the townspeople. Only Emmett Dalton, with 23 wounds, survives to spend 14 years in prison.
Nov 8, U. S. presidential election, 1892 - Grover Cleveland is elected over Benjamin Harrison to win the second of his non-consecutive terms.
Dec 18 - The Nutcracker ballet with music by Tchaikovsky is premiered at the Imperial Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia
In 1892, Thomas Ahearn is the first person to prepare a meal on an electric stove.

In was in the 1890s that Gustavius Franklin Swift and Philip Dan forth Armour made fortunes in the meatpacking industry while the refrigerated railroad car allowed foods grown in one part of the country to be shipped safely and cheaply to shoppers all over the nation.

In the 1880s and 1890s the standard for elegant dining was eight to ten course banquets. These were typical among the wealthy. At a dinner honoring Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, the meal began with raw oysters, a choice of two soups, an hors d'oeuvre, and a fish course. The next course was a saddle of lamb and filet of beef followed by chicken wings with green beans and mushroom-stuffed artichokes. Afterward the diners were served sorbet to "cleanse" their palate before tackling the course of canvasback duck and quail. Desserts included timbale Madison, various kinds of ice cream, whipped creams, jellied dishes, banana mouse and various elaborate pastry dishes. The dinner ended with coffee and liqueurs served with fruit and petits fours. Oh my goodness - can you imagine a meal like this?

Now compare what the western and Midwestern travelers survived on - heavy, greasy foods, mainly fatback (meat from the back of a hog) cornbread, and perhaps a handful of seasonal vegetables.

I was surprised at all that happened in 1892. As Catherine and Zed spent their days in the high, mountains of Northern Utah, so many things were happening that they may not have been aware of, but that would affect the world as they knew it.

Can you tell I enjoy history? Hope you found some of this interesting like I did.

Happy reading.

K. R. Bailey